Yoga for Health

Your Bridge to Health; Promoting Optimal Wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit

Your Bridge to Health; Promoting Optimal Wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit

Studies show that yoga offers benefits for mind, body and spirit.

For general information on Yoga – from the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health –

But with so many styles of Yoga, which do you choose?

  • Hatha
  • Kripalu
  • Vinyasa.
  • Iyengar.
  • Ashtanga.
  • Bikram.
  • Hot Yoga.
  • Kundalini.
  • Yin Yoga. ….

My Personal Introduction to Yoga – Nineteen years ago yoga was part of my ‘tool kit’ for smoking cessation. Gentle hatha yoga that focused on slow, stretching movements in synch with following the breath. The ending shivasana (pronounced Shuh-vah-sana) allowed for a deep head-to-toe (or toe-to-head, depending on the instructor) relaxation. Sometimes accompanied by a guided meditation and a warm blanket. My first session allowed for an emotional release I had not expected. Perhaps a release and letting go of my former 22 -year pack-per-day habit that, I was somewhat reluctantly giving up. For the first 3 sessions, the deep breathing and rocking movements caused a bone racking cough that I felt was cleaning out my polluted, tar-ridden lungs.

Since then, I continue to intermittently enjoy a variety of yoga classes. Gentle hatha and kripalu style are still my favorites; helpful for general relaxation, improved balance and flexibility, and improved mood. Shavasana remains my favorite pose (asana.) Lying flat on my back, arms at my side, focusing on the breath flowing easy in, and easy out. This position of deep rest and relaxation can be practiced most anywhere. That along with self-Reiki, remains part of my daily practice for relaxation and stress relief.

The Good News – there is a style of yoga and teacher to suit everyone, including ‘chair yoga.’ Yoga is often available at local senior centers, including at the Rockport Senior Center and Gloucester’s Rose Baker Senior Center.

Recommendations From the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Healthcare – 

If You Are Considering Practicing Yoga:

  • Do not use yoga to replace conventional medical care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about pain or any other medical condition.
  • If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care provider before starting yoga.
  • Ask a trusted source (such as your health care provider or a nearby hospital) to recommend a yoga practitioner. Find out about the training and experience of any practitioner you are considering. To learn more, see Selecting a Complementary Medicine Practitioner.
  • Everyone’s body is different, and yoga postures should be modified based on individual abilities. Carefully selecting an instructor who is experienced with and attentive to your needs is an important step toward helping you practice yoga safely. Ask about the physical demands of the type of yoga in which you are interested and inform your yoga instructor about any medical issues you have.
  • Carefully think about the type of yoga you are interested in. For example, hot yoga (such as Bikram yoga) may involve standing and moving in humid environments with temperatures as high as 105°F. Because such settings may be physically stressful, people who practice hot yoga should take certain precautions. These include drinking water before, during, and after a hot yoga practice and wearing suitable clothing. People with conditions that may be affected by excessive heat, such as heart disease, lung disease, and a prior history of heat stroke may want to avoid this form of yoga. Women who are pregnant may want to check with their health care providers before starting hot yoga.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

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